It's so weird to be prescient. Since my kids were very small, which was 15+ years ago, I've made it clear that we would not let them go into debt, nor would we go into debt for their college expenses. To me, it wasn't just that I thought college was overpriced, but that it wasn't prudent to saddle a young person with a bunch of debt and it wasn't prudent to saddle middle-aged parents who are looking at retirement with a bunch of debt. My other half disagreed. As he said, reflecting on the halcyon days of his undergrad years that catapulted him onto Wall Street with an Ivy League degree in computer science just as the financial markets were being deregulated (yeah, it's was exactly what everyone now dreams of), "There's nothing like a little debt to concentrate the mind on the job of making a living." My response: there's nothing like having to pay for your food and rent to concentrate your mind.
I recently counseled a woman whose daughter wants to go to an out of state private school for acting training. I advised that they not to send her if they have to go into debt. Here, in a nutshell, is the problem. First, they ran the numbers and she (daughter) would only have about $300 per month in debt payments on graduation. That seemed reasonable to her (the mother: daughter has no clue, as most young people don't.) She seemed oblivious to the fact that actors are notoriously underemployed, and even an employed youngster just out of college has a tough time gaining financial traction. There are a bunch of expenses right up front to being independent. I mentioned that that $300 meant the difference between being able to afford living in NYC with two roommates and a waitressing job and moving back in with Mom and Dad and having a waitressing job with zero prospect of being employed in her profession. I suggested that they consider having her daughter take a gap year to save money to cover her expenses in college and to put some work experience on the resume. As I noted, the daughter then gains some maturity and a feeling of ownership.
It almost goes without saying that they didn't take my advice. No, instead they called my daughter, who is going to the same school and the same program. She gave different advice. Was I, for a fleeting instant, moved to smack her? Perhaps make her do a gap year as penance? That's between me and my confessor, but I'm philosophical: anyone who would take the advice of a 19 year-old aspiring actress in matters of finance and higher education deserves penury. Of course, we're getting what we're paying for, too: gayness is more normal that straightness, everyone's plays are amazing, there is no objective truth and the only issue of concern in the upcoming elections is ¡gay marriage! My beef: she doesn't get that gays are divided on that. I guess you have to go to a women's college to be brought up to speed on the subtleties of the LGBT agenda versus the lesbian and gay agendas.